How far do you let a 15 year old "have her space"?

I am at odds with my wife on just how much space is healthy for my step-daughter, a 15 year old girl (freshman in high school). I do not feel it is safe with the attitude of 'she's a good girl' and 'she has enough common sense' to keep herself out of trouble. She is a freshman at a new school out of the area where she went to middle school and is hanging with kids that seem to be on the 'wrong path'. I know for a fact they are doing pot and drinking though I do not believe my step-daughter is at this point. I also know by my step-daughter's own admission that at least one of them is VERY sexually active. I work at the same high school she goes to and know the kids she hangs with. When I speak to my wife about it she blows it off. I spoke to my family about it and they suggest I stay out of it since she is my 'Step-Daughter' and to let my wife handle it. They also suggest the marriage is more important than trying to be a 'Dad' to her. What do you think?

Update:

The issues also extend into the internet world to include MySpace, Facebook and the like. Should she have total ability to block us from what she is doing on there or should we be be able to access her internet usage or at least make her think that by having her password we could at any time be checking on her? I understand the 'privacy' issues but I also know of all the problems we have with students and what they do and say on those sites.

I have a hard time just standing by and shutting up when it comes to my opions on raising kids. This is effectively my 5th kid and the 4th girl. It was easier before because we didn't have all the internet issues in the 90's that we do today.

12 Answers

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Despite the blended family situation, you describe a similar concern as my own. As the mother of a 15-year old daughter, I have spent the last year trying to find a balance between my husband's laissez-faire and permissive parenting style and my own controlling and stricter style.

    For most of the last year, I had given up on fighting the battle against the two of them and allowed my husband's decisions to rule. My husband gave our daughter privileges on the assumption that our daughter was a good girl (like yours), "responsible" enough to make good decisions and trustworthy enough to do so despite peer pressure.

    Yeah, right!. She WAS a good teenager but she was also curiously gravitating towards the excitement, popularity and instant gratification of bad influences. In twelve months we went from a happy, law-abiding family with excellent prospects for the future to a group of delinquents (parents and children included) who would potentially only ever become a burden on society. Our fifteen year old started smoking tobacco and pot, which turned into drinking every weekend, then sneaking out of the house at night and I figured it was only a matter of very short time before she became the next statistic of teen-age pregnancy. Not to mention the very serious negative effect these things all had on our marriage.

    Since laissez-faire obviously didn't work well and neither did the iron fist, we (parents) have together written a new and mutually agreed-upon basic "Expectations & Rule" book. That exercise in itself was quite enlightening for both of us since it was obvious that we were not united as parents (in your case you may wish to include the other father, too).

    We got this advice from an easy to read and user-friendly book listed below. It's basic premise is that the main goal for our daughter (hers and ours) is to grow to become a decent and responsible happy adult who is consistently able to make good decisions for herself.

    We have presented this "rule book" (which balances privilege and responsibility) with our daughter and while she feels like we have pulled back the reins on her, we were able to show her that her current behaviours and actions are undermining the main goal and having a detrimental effect on our family.

    All the rules and expectations apply equally to each of us and have the main goal as their objective. As new challenges arise, we use the basic "rule book" as a springboard to discuss each issue with our daughter and come to an agreeable solution.

    This strategy has truly saved our daughter from potential self-destruction and life-long regret and has also saved our marriage.

    So, in answer to your specific question, I have travelled that road on which you may imminently find yourself and have to say that it is not a good or enjoyable place to be. Regarless of your step-daughters parentage, the potential for her delinquent actions/behaviours to negatively affect you and your marraige are very real. In conclusion, where there are chilrdren, ALL parents (steps included) have to be united and (pro)active parents or risk jeopardizing their own spousal relationships.

    I hope this helps you.

    Good Luck

    Source(s): "How to deal with Your Acting-Up Teenager; practical self-help for desperate parents" by Robrt T. & Jean Bayard, Phd's
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  • 1 decade ago

    Oh come on how much common sense can a 15yr old have. It has been proven over and over again that peer pressure controls a kid. Once you remove the kid from the pressure they do fine. She is probably a good girl and on her way to common sense but at 15 she doesn't have enough experience to understand what the consequences of her actions are.

    You've got some inside information but in your position of being a worker at her high school you cannot break confidentiality. All you can do is, without naming names, tell your wife that the kids she is hanging around with have social problems and you are concerned about peer pressure. You warned her, and its up to her to parent her daughter if she doesn't want you to be involved.

    I think you have done all you can. Just be prepared for what happens next.

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  • 1 decade ago

    As the mother of a 15 year old I know only to well that the more you push the more the child is going to pull away from you. Think back to when you were her gae did you want your parents telling you who to be friends with and did your parents like all of your friends. I allow my daughter to choice her own friends however if I know for a fact one is doing something I wouldn't approve of then I have a talk with my daughter. Example one of her friends is also known to smoke pot and do crack, my husband and I sat down with our daughter and told her that while she was old enough to choose her friends that just because she was friends with someone didn't mean that she had to do what they were doing and a true friend accepts you for who you are even if you feel different on an issue than them and to never feel like she has to do something because they are. We made sure to tell her that we trusted her and if she ever felt pressured or unsure she could always come to us and she wouldn't be judged. The girls mother has known her her entire life you a matter of a few years so although you should be allowed an opinion on the matter you have to go with your wives instinct on it and just let them know you are their for them. Don't push and don't judge. Get the kids to come over to your house more because a lot of times these kids act the way they do because no one cares what they are doing. The marriage is important but when you married the wife you also took on being a parent and you can't just step aside and say your kid deal with it because that in itself will cause issues.

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  • 1 decade ago

    As long as your part of the family you should have a say. At least let your wife think about these things. I am sure she wants the best for her daughter but once you got married she is also your daughter. I would think that your wife would find your impute as a good thing seeing how you work there and know the kids she hangs out with.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    If your wife can't see the writing on the wall, she doesn't understand how much peer pressure plays into the kids in this age group. You need to convince her that the pot and drinking thing can be a "guilt by association" thing, even if she is doing nothing wrong herself, she can get busted just being with that crowd at the wrong time. She must realize that kids who get in trouble in the sex department normally are doing so because thier friends are doing "it" and see no harm in it, especially if they are dared into going all the way with a certain guy or something like that. And there are other sex games kids are playing these days because they don't actually "do it", but feel oral sex and anal sex are safe and acceptable to thier crowd.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Here's the news: your wife is being an idiot. Allowing children (yes 15 is still very much a child) their space is OK, but you still have to give them protection, even in that space. If you don't have access to that space you can't protect them. It's great to trust your kid, but at 15, even after they've earned your trust, they do stupid things.

    You and your wife need to be on the same page. And tell her what you know and see at the school, and how corrupting this influences really are. Your wife needs to set some boundaries on privacy, like allowing you access to her myspace and facebook pages.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Because she's new to the school, it's usually the "less on the ladder kids" who except new faces.

    Your family is right let your wife handle it. Just remember not to say I Told You SO later.

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  • Sam
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    Well she's 15, she has to start making some of her own choices and mistakes and learning from them. But if it becomes to much, like she starts taking drugs then definetly dont let her hang around them anymore. Hopefully you raised her well enough to know better and to be able to trust her to make good decisions.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I think u r doin the rite thing by worrying.

    u just need to get it through ur wifes head

    that she needs to talk to her daughter.

    before its too late. n if it is too late n sumthin already happen

    then i guess u can say i told u so lol. n now it will neva happen agen cuz now they will listen to u.

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  • 1 decade ago

    I think, if and when something goes wrong, then it'll be in your lap!! So, I'd show I care, make some rules for her, and let the chips fall where they may...If you do nothing, she'll think you don't care, but too much, she'll think you're bossy...you can't win, but you can try!!

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